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still more things to do

08/20/2020 10:11:44 AM


Aileen Grossberg, Librarian


Here is the latest in the biweekly online—and increasingly—in-person things to do. This is only the tip of the virtual iceberg.

Looking for a place to go before school starts?

Storm King, in Mountainville, NY about an hour north, is another indoor/outdoor sculpture experience although none of the indoor facilities are currently open.  Established in 1960,  the 500-acre site is made for wandering and picnicking. The Woodbury Commons Shopping Center, south of Storm King, has over 250 vendors of all sorts.

Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ (about 60 miles south) was featured in a previous listing. But the grounds are open now. Founded in 1992, the big draw is the outdoor display of hundreds of sculptures.  There is also a web presence. In normal times, the indoor galleries and restaurants are also open. Check for hours and amenities as these may change. Good for all ages.

Morristown National Historic Park makes a good destination in this election year when we think of history. Various sites-Jockey Hollow, Washington Headquarters, etc.- are spread around the Morristown area. Not everything is accessible right now. However, there are open visitor centers and an informative website that indicates what is open and accessible. Good for walkers.

Can’t leave New Jersey but want to travel?

Virtually tour the Great Synagogue of Vilna. What makes this extra special is that the 17th-century building had to be demolished in the 1950s because of damage from World War II. The 3-D recreation is part of Vilna’s celebration of the 300th birthday of the legendary Vilna Gaon.

Looking to get into a High Holiday mood?

The Cantors’ Assembly Sundays at 8 presents an hour of Jewish music. Coming up is cantorial music for the holidays as well as many other musical offerings.

Jewish Live will be offering a series on the binding of Isaac. Jewish Live lists prayer, craft, study, cooking, learning opportunities such a weekly Bible classes with scholar Richard Elliott Friedman on Mondays at 1:00.

High Holiday Cooking School at  11:00 a.m. the Streicker Center of Temple Emanu-el will offer a week (September 7-11) of classes by well-known food writers: Melissa Clark, Joan Nathan, Einat Adsmony, Elan Saffritz. These sessions are usually recorded so they can be watched at any convenient time.

Are you literary minded?

While the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University won’t be presenting its main stage productions until 2021, it will be holding a Shakespeare Book Club both in-person and virtually via Zoom. Running from October 6-November 24, three plays will be read and discussed.

Don’t forget to watch the reading of Righteous, (mentioned in a previous column) on August 24 at 7:30. The all-star cast contemplates what Eduard Schulte, a captain of German industry and member of Hitler’s inner circle, would do when faced with the question of what to do when he learns that his country is contemplating exterminating an entire people. Righteous is the true story of the man who warned the world of Hitler’s plan to murder all the Jews in Europe. Schulte’s alarm reached the desk of President Roosevelt in December 1942. Presented by the Streicker Center of Temple Emanu-el ,

This and that

Moses und Aron, an unfinished opera by Arnold Schoenberg, is available free through September 11 at Operavision’s website. There are many recorded operas available in a variety of languages.

The Jewish Museum of Florida has mounted an exhibit of the purses which Holocaust survivor designer Judith Leiber was known for. Although the museum is closed, viewers can look at these beautiful pieces via a 3-D walkthrough. A related book is Parrots, Pugs, and Pixie Dust by Deborah Blumenthal. This illustrated biography for children tells Leiber’s story from the Nazi labor camps to the pinnacle of success as a designer.)

Looking for something to read?

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz, a young adult novel, tells the first-person story of Nevaeh Levitz, a biracial girl who, as her parents divorce, is torn between her mother’s warm Black Baptist family and her father’s uptight, nominally Jewish family. Nevaeh (heaven spelled backward) who presents as white seems to fit in nowhere and is even more confused when her father insists that she has a delayed bat mitzvah. Based in part on the author’s experience, there is joy and sadness as well as confusion and enlightenment in the novel. Parts are outright funny. Readers should be able to identify with Nevaeh’s confusion and frustration in this timely book whose only flaw is that it tries to do too much.

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland. It’s 1934 and Florence Adler, a student at Wellesley wants to be the first Jewish woman to swim the English Channel. In a tragic accident, she drowns while swimming off the shore in Atlantic City. Her sister Fannie is on bed rest with a difficult pregnancy having lost a newborn previously. Her parents decide to keep Florence’s death a secret until the baby is born. The book is told from the viewpoints of various characters including Gussie, Florence’s young niece, and Stuart, her swim coach and romantic interest, as well as family members. There is a darkly comic tone to this novel, which touches on feminism, anti-semitism, elitism, and the situation of the Jews in Europe. Young Gussie is a charming character. In a strange coincidence, Fannie’s newborn who lived only a few weeks was cared for in Dr. Couney’s exhibit. (See The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, below)

The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman tells the story of two Iranian Jewish families that made their fortunes in China. The Sassons and the Kadoories were both rivals and comrades as they took advantage of economic, social, and political situations to build their reputations, financial bases, and lavish lifestyles. However, were it not for them, hundreds of Jews would have perished in the Holocaust as their money helped support Jewish refugees in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Lots of end notes.

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: how a mysterious  European showman saved thousands of American babies by Dawn Raffel. If this weren’t a true story, it would be almost unbelievable. Polish Jewish Michael Cohn reinvented himself as an expert in caring for endangered newborns. However, the story of how he did it is fantastic. Couney improved upon the incubators currently being used, but not being a “real” doctor and being a showman at heart, he exhibited the premature newborns at fairs and expositions through the United States. Complete with nurses, the babies- who were exceptionally well cared for- were on display next to other sideshow exhibits. Miraculously, Couney’s improvements on the incubator actually did save lives. According to his statistics, the vast majority of the babies lived to adulthood. The story is fascinating as a portrait of Couney, his dedication, the nascent field of neonatal medicine, and American society.  Photographs, interviews with some of Couney’s babies (grown-up, of course), and lots of notes.

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump (I only read this because someone gave it to us) is an attempt by psychologist Trump to explain her uncle’s sometimes cruel, sometimes bizarre behavior through his life experience. While his mother was ill, he was semi-abandoned as a very young child. His father was demanding and emotionally cold. Trump’s conclusion is that Donald Trump is still trying to get his father’s attention and please him. Armchair psychology may or may not be on the mark but the book is a quick read. One almost feels sorry for the President who just wants to be loved.

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784